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This Christmas, Treat Yourself to Some Homemade Eggnog


Raise a toast to friends and family with a punch bowl full of homemade eggnog.

Shortly after the beginning of “The Ref,” my all-time favorite Christmas movie, a customer is heard grumbling to a sales clerk, “I have 25 relatives coming in one hour and you have one bottle of eggnog. What am I going to do? … I promised them I’d have eggnog.”

When the clerk suggests that she make eggnog, the customer’s incredulity and rage boil over. “I can’t make it,” she screams. “You make it!”

Well, this year, you can make the eggnog. From scratch. And it’ll blow your mind how good the real stuff is.

The recipe we offer comes from Christopher Ware, the elixir magician responsible for the cocktails at Jesse Perez’s upcoming restaurant, Arcade Midtown Kitchen at the Pearl Brewery. We sampled a few of his concoctions recently, including a barrel-aged cocktail, and asked him to provide us with a punch that was perfect for Christmas.

But first, a few words about punch.

The following background comes from the 1937 classic, “Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em” from Stanley Clisby Arthur:

“Punch is the ideal beverage to serve at large gatherings and many are the kinds from which to choose when you are preparing to entertain in a big way.

“The Punch Bowl, or Bowl O’Punch, as our English cousins call it, has long been a feature of Christmas and holiday festivities. The word punch comes from India, and is derived from the Hindu panch, meaning five, the original beverage being composed of five ingredients, viz.: spirits, water or milk, lemon, sugar, spice or cordial. The punch field is covered by arrak, brandy, claret, gin, milk, rum, tea, whiskey, wine, and fruit punch. The drink is usually qualified by the name of the principal ingredient, as, for example, whiskey punch. ”

Or eggnog.

You can find various conjectures as to the origin of the “nog” part of the name (does it refer to “noggin” or “grog” or what?), but what is important is what goes in it.

Ware’s recipe calls for an Italian walnut liquor called Nocino that you can find in town and a specific rum that has a special quality.

“The actual recipe for the egg nog on its own is 2 ounces rum, .5 ounce Nocino, .5 ounce heavy cream, .5 ounce simple syrup and 1 whole egg,” he says. “I used Smith & Cross Rum in the actual batch, which is one of the last readily available rums still produced that would seem to mimic rums from a hundred years ago. The customer should be wary that this is naval proof, or 57% ABV, so good things shall come from this concoction!”

Christopher Ware’s Eggnog

To transform the recipe from a serving for one to a punch happened as follows:

“To start, I took a 750-milliliter bottle of Smith & Cross and steeped a bouquet garni of allspice berries, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon for 24 hours to bring the spice level to Christmas ideals,” Ware says. “After 24 hours of infusion, add an additional 250 milliliters of water to bring the alcohol content down and remove the spices from the liquid. Take the rum and strain through a coffee filter to remove any additional particulates that may have escaped the bouquet garni.

“Now mind you, we are making a punch, so measuring is important, but so is flavor and balance,” he continues. “We have 1,000 milliliters of rum mixture, which is equal to 33.8 ounces, or for our purposes 34 ounces. This is enough product for 17 to 25 servings of nog, depending on the gluttonous behavior that no doubt will ensue once one or two of these are consumed. Our recipe list should include 17 eggs, 8.5 ounces of heavy cream, 8.5 ounces of simple syrup (to make simple syrup combine equal ratios of granular sugar to hot water), 8.5 oounces of Nocino (Nocino is a traditional Italian Walnut liqueur; commercially I like Nux Alpina Nocino — I got mine at Joe Saglimbeni’s, but it’s also available at Spec’s).”

So, what do you do with it?

“Before combining all of the ingredients, take your 17 eggs and beat them with a whisk till emulsified completely. Next, add your cream, simple syrup, Nocino and rum to the mix while continuing to stir. Once thoroughly mixed, put in the fridge and allow to sit for at least 2 hours, so all of the nog’s flavor will bind to each other and mellow. This batch will keep for upwards of 1 week.”

Unless you know you’ll be drinking plenty of this, you may want to keep the ice in each individual serving, instead of the punch bowl. That way, the ice won’t melt and dilute the entire bowl of eggnog.

Ware suggests that you pour about 3.5 ounces into a glass, then add ice and grate fresh cinnamon over the top, if you like. Only one step remains. “Sit back and enjoy the festivities,” he says.

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Egg Cognac: A Vintage Austrian Holiday Treat


Classic Viennese cooking from the turn of the century (and that would be 1900) is not a trendy style. But, many of the recipes you’ll find in this recently published cookbook, “The Viennese Kitchen,” (Interlink Books, $30) by Monica Meehan and Maria von Baich, will appeal to modern cooks.

The recipes are from a carefully handwritten notebook and journal kept by Baroness Hertha Freiin von Winkler, born in what is now Slovenia, in 1889. Meehan is von Winkler’s great niece; von Baich is Meehan’s mother.

The recipes might be vintage, but they were all tested and updated for home cooks. Dumplings and molded gelatin puddings might seem old fashioned, but they are still around in various forms — panna cotta, for instance, is essentially a molded gelatin pudding, though an amazingly delicate and delicious one!

This recipe for egg cognac caught my eye because eggnog is something I look forward to every holiday season.  I imagine this is the eggnog of 120 years ago – and it is very well fortified with vodka. If you want it for Christmas Eve, make it soon, as it needs to sit a few days in the refrigerator. But, after that you can keep it refrigerated for up to four months.

Aunt Putzi’s Egg Cognac

3 cups whole milk
Generous 2 cups powdered sugar
1 ounce vanilla sugar (or use a teaspoon of vanilla)
5 large egg yolks
1 cup vodka

Rinse a medium-sized saucepan in water (but do not dry). Pour in the milk, along with 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar and the vanilla sugar. Slowly bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Then strain the milk through a sieve into a large bowl to leave the skin behind.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining powdered sugar (1 1/4 cups) until pale. Ladle a quarter of the strained milk into the mixture and whisk on the lowest setting. Now add the remaining milk and the vodka and whisk very briefly to incorporate.

Transfer to a sterilized bottle and refrigerate for 4-5 days before sampling this delicious tipple. Keeps well, refrigerated, for up to four months.

From “The Viennese Kitchen” by Monica Meehan and Maria von Baich

 

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Home for Christmas Eggnog Pie


Not a cheesecake, not your plain old egg custard pie, this Home for Christmas Eggnog Pie is all about eggnog, and then some.

Eggnog with extra nutmeg and rum, baked into a pie. It's good.

Get the richest eggnog at the store (even if you are drinking the lower-fat variety). Then, whip up eggs with some cream, sugar, rum and vanilla extracts and nutmeg. Cool, cut and serve.

It’s good with coffee, good with a little whipped cream on top, and perfect for Christmas Eve. Make two and take one to your neighbor when you go to deliver her Christmas card. We predict it will be a hit.

Home for Christmas Eggnog Pie

3 whole eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon rum or rum extract or bourbon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg plus more for sprinkling
1 pint eggnog
1 (9-inch) pie crust or tart shell

In a mixer, whisk the eggs on medium-high for five minutes. Add the cream and whip for another five minutes. Add sugar, salt, vanilla, rum, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and the pint of eggnog. Blend for another 2-3 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the pie crust in a tart pan or pie plate and flute the crust as you like it. Pour the batter into the pie pan. Take a pastry brush and brush some of the batter left in the bowl over the crust. (This will give it a soft shine as it bakes.) Grate or sprinkle some more powdered nutmeg over the top of the pie — not a heavy amount, but all around the top.

Bake for about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake 30 minutes more. Gently shake the pie after about 50 minutes or so. When the center jiggles uniformly with the rest of the custard, it is time to take it out. Let it sit at room temperature to cool, then refrigerate it for a couple of hours before serving.

Suggestion: You can top each slice of pie with a spoonful of whipped cream and a few red raspberries for a festive look.

Makes 6-8 servings.

From Bonnie Walker

Photograph by Bonnie Walker

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Eggnog Gives French Toast a Welcome Kick


French ToastIf you have any leftover eggnog in the punch bowl, you can make this treat on Christmas morning.

Eggnog French Toast

2 cups homemade eggnog (see note)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons rum or 1 teaspoon rum extract
12 slices day-old cinnamon raisin bread
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
Nutmeg, for garnish
Cinnamon, for garnish
Maple syrup, for serving (optional)

In a medium bowl, beat eggnog with the eggs and rum.  Put mixture in a  flat pan. Soak bread in eggnog mixture about 5 minutes, turning to be sure all of the bread is soaked.

In a skillet, melt some of the butter until it begins to sizzle. Then add 2 slices of bread, cooking on both sides until toasted. Sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon on top before serving. Pass the maple syrup.

Note:  If using store-bought eggnog, use 2 cups eggnog. Whisk in 3 eggs and add rum and/or bourbon (or rum extract) to taste.

Makes 6-8 servings.

From John Griffin and Bonnie Walker

(Photo: Mathilda Tan)

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